Disclaimer: I don't own High Mountain Rangers or Jesse Hawkes, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Warnings: Violence, Angst
Summary: He holds Cody responsible for what happened to his family, what will he do to obtain justice?
A/N: References to the High Mountain Ranger episode; War Games and the Jesse Hawkes episode in which Cody walks into a bank robbery and is taken hostage.
His face was a mask of stone as he fled the warden's office. It couldn't be true! She wouldn't have done it, they were lying, they had to be lying. Images of his pretty niece flashed through his mind; laughing at a party; chewing on the end of a pencil as she tried to solve a problem at work; screaming at her step-mother at the trial; lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. He slammed the doors of his mind shut on the final image! He couldn't afford to show his grief here, the jackals within these walls wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of any weakness.
The guards did nothing to stop him. He was supposed to be in the kitchen now, not stalking through the corridors in the opposite direction. The warden must have told them about his loss. Finally he arrived at his destination; pushing open the door, he silently entered the prison library; the one place that had become his sanctuary. Absently picking up a newspaper, he made his way to a far corner; his corner. Flopping down on the chair, he tossed the paper onto the table in front of him. Shielding his face with his hands, he pretended to read the paper as he allowed the tears to flow.
She was gone, the last of his family, leaving him alone. He'd done all he could to save her, but it wasn't enough. Her grief and guilt had become too much. They had beaten at the defenses of her mind until she was overwhelmed and defeated. The warden's words returned to him; clipped words that told him nothing of the turmoil his niece had felt. He didn't need the words though, he knew from the letters she sent the sea of emotions she had been drowning in.
The sound of muted voices coming closer brought him back to the present. Quickly swiping away the tell-tale tears, he forced himself to focus on the paper. Maybe, he would later think, if he had seen the headline any other day things would have been different. Of course what if is a useless question and he, like most cons, knew it. The fact was, he did see the headline; giving him a focus for his grief, turning it to rage. BOUNTY HUNTER AND SONS FOIL BANK ROBBERY!
Reverend Crane spotted the man he had been searching for. Watching him, he recognized the attempt to hide his grief as the man pretended to read the paper. He wished there was more he could do for him, but within these walls showing weakness could get a man killed. The reverend sighed, he could at least give the man a few hours to let his grief show without fear of it being used against him. Sliding into the seat across from the grieving inmate, he cleared his throat. "I am sorry to hear of your loss," he said when the other man looked up.
"Thank you Reverend."
"Were you close?"
He nodded, "She was the last of my family."
"Would you like to attend the funeral?"
Quickly he dropped his gaze to the table, hiding the flash of glee that he knew would be there. "Do you think they'll let me?" he quietly asked.
"Of course, you would be guarded, I can do nothing about that."
"I understand Reverend; at least I'd get to say good-bye."
"I'll make the arrangements then." Standing up, he patted the other man on the back as he passed him, unaware of the plans for revenge already being formed.
The day of the funeral came and true to his word, the good reverend had gained permission for the grieving uncle to attend. The trip to the service went smoothly; the prisoner giving his guards no trouble at all. After the funeral, he was escorted to the back of what appeared to be an ordinary limo. The first guard slid into the car, followed by the prisoner and the other guard. A third guard was already in the car, ready to drive them back to the prison. As they drove along the coast highway, the men in the car were silent.
"It was a nice service, didn't you think?" he asked his guards.
Before either man could answer, the partition, separating front seat from back, slid down revealing an extra passenger. Two quick squeezes of a trigger and two darts flew from the tranquilizer gun; the men in the back seat fell unconscious. The whole thing took only a moment.
"Pull over," the man in the front ordered the remaining guard, shoving a 45 revolver into his ribs to make his point.
The guard gave no argument, he had a wife and son at home that he wasn't prepared to leave yet. Parking the car, he turned to the man beside him. "You won't get away with this."
The man only smiled as he fired a third dart, sending the driver into the arms of sleep. "There is a car hidden there," he informed the prisoner, pointing with his gun. "You will find everything you need inside."
"You'll take care of everything here?"
"How long do you think it will take the authorities to discover my escape?"
"They won't," the man replied.
"What do you have planned?"
"It's better if you don't know the details. You hired me to arrange your escape, trust me to do my job."
"I ended up in prison because I didn't know what another had planned, tell me what you have planned."
"Very well. I have acquired a body, a homeless man who fits your description. After you leave, he will take your place. There will be a horrible accident, no survivors and the bodies burnt beyond recognition."
"They'll know it's not me as soon as they check dental records."
"Why would they do that? After all, they know the identities of the men in this car and they will find a man in shackles who matches your height and weight. If they do decide to check though, records can be falsified. After today, Larry Rassy will cease to exist."
He grinned, "You've certainly earned your fee Mr. Smith." Released from his shackles, Larry climbed from the limo and jogged towards the hidden car. Quickly changing clothes, he slid behind the wheel and headed towards San Francisco.
Jesse looked again towards the loft where his youngest slept. "I don't know Matt, I think we should pass on this one."
A smirk grew on Matt's face, "It's just the flu Dad."
Jesse frowned, "I know, but I don't like the idea of leaving your brother alone while he's sick."
"We won't be gone that long, he'll be okay."
"You don't know that," Jesse pointed out. "What if it takes us longer to find Sullivan than we expect? What if Cody goes from having the flu to having pneumonia?"
Matt sighed heavily, he knew his father tended to be protective of Cody, especially after the ordeal of that bank robbery. Truth be told, he felt pretty protective of the kid himself but he knew his brother was starting to chafe under their attention. "Dad he's 17, not 7 and he's not stupid. Fact is, he's a lot more responsible than several grown men I've known. If he thinks he's getting sicker and needs a doctor, he'll go see one."
Jesse looked again towards the loft, he knew Matt was probably right. Nevertheless he found himself shaking his head, "No, I'm going to pass on Sullivan, let somebody else bring him in."
Cody had been coming down the stairs when he heard his father's words. "You can't do that Dad," he immediately protested.
"What are you doing up young man? You should be in bed resting," Jesse admonished, ignoring his son's protest.
"I was thirsty," Cody mumbled. "You're thinking about not going after Sullivan because of me, aren't you?"
Jesse sighed, "You're sick Cody, I don't like the idea of leaving you alone."
"It's just the flu Dad, I'll be fine."
"Of course you will, but I'll feel better if I stay here with you."
"Sullivan probably went up into the mountains, didn't he?"
"Probably," Matt answered when he saw that Jesse wasn't going to.
"You and Matt are the best chance there is of catching him, you have to go after him Dad."
"There are others just as capable..."
"No!" Cody snapped. "Look Dad I know you don't want to leave me alone and I appreciate it, but I'm not that sick. I heard you and Matt talking about Sullivan, what he did to those boys," Cody shuddered slightly as the words repeated in his mind. "Please Dad, don't let a monster like that get away."
Jesse hung his head, God he hadn't wanted Cody to know anything about Sullivan. The things the man had done to the boys he'd kidnapped...nobody should ever be subjected to anything so horrific. Jesse was beginning to think it had been a mistake to stay in the city. Cody had still been an innocent kid when they had arrived here, but each case they took stole a little more of that innocence away. Looking up, he saw the faith shining in the blue eyes of his son, faith in him and it took his breath. Cody had lost so much of his innocence here in San Francisco, Jesse didn't have the heart to take away the last of it with a betrayal of that faith. "Are you sure you'll be okay?"
Cody smiled, he knew his Dad would do the right thing. His father was too good of a man to let scum like Eric Sullivan go free. "I'll be fine Dad," he assured him.
"All right, but I think we should leave Ding here," Jesse decided.
"Dad you may need Ding up there to help you track this guy," Cody protested. "Besides, if you leave him then I have to take him for walks. Be kind of hard to rest," he grinned.
"You stay in bed and rest, drink..."
"Plenty of fluids, I know what to do Dad."
"Think you're pretty smart, don't you?" Jesse smirked.
"Well I did have a good education," Cody grinned.
Jesse chuckled, "Go to bed son, I'll bring you a glass of water."
It took Larry three days to find the warehouse in which the Hawkes family was living. He spent another two days watching the building, waiting for an opportunity to take his revenge. On the morning of the third day, his patience was rewarded as the older two Hawkes stepped out of the building. He could clearly hear them as they walked away, coming perilously close to his hiding place. For a moment he thought his hiding place had been discovered as their dog began to growl. Just as he was preparing to fight his way to freedom, a cat ran from the opposite corner of the alley in which he was hidden.
"Come on Ding," Jesse ordered. "We don't have time for this, come on Ding," he ordered again. He was about to reach for the leash he carried in his pack when the dog finally decided to obey.
Larry breathed a sigh of relief as the two men and dog walked away. So, the boy was sick with the flu and would probably be alone for at least a couple of days? That was good news, for him anyway. He was sure the brat would disagree, he thought, a malicious grin spreading over his face. As the men disappeared around the corner, he wanted nothing more than to rush into the warehouse. He resisted the urge, forcing himself to remain patient for a little while longer. It wouldn't do to begin his revenge only to have Hawkes forget something and return to the warehouse. No, he had been patient this long, he could wait a couple more hours.
Inside the warehouse, Cody slept, unaware of the nightmare he was about to be plunged into.
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